Thursday, October 19, 2017

Friday the 13th Art Teacher PD

Last Friday all of our district art teachers were given the wonderful opportunity to visit the Thomas Hart Benton Home in Kansas City.  Friends, it was amazing and awesome and smells like old books in there.  This was not my first visit, so I just enjoyed the experience rather than taking pictures (because I took them on my first visit and it's a museum--so duh, nothing changes).  I was sure I'd blogged about it before, but I can't find it (maybe it's time to organize my blog a little better???).   I also looked for all my photos on my work computer, my camera and my phone and couldn't find them (I'll look for them on my home computer later, and I pinky promise if I find them I'll add them).  Until then, some Benton facts, in no particular order: Thomas Hart Benton was born in 1889 in Neosho, MO.  He was married to Rita, and they had two children (their daughter is still living).  Benton was only 5'2 3/4" (there's a life size cut out of him on the walkway to his house). They were able to pay cash (!) for their beautiful home from his earnings painting murals ($6000 in I think 1939).  He taught painting at the Kansas City Art Institute.  One of his students is non other than Jackson Pollock.  Benton had a reputation as a hard drinker, but in reality, every drink (bourbon and water) was cut with more and more water each time to give the impression he was drinking you under the table.  He started painting most days at 6am. He died in 1975 of a massive heart attack in his studio before signing his last painting.  
If you're in the KC metro area, consider a visit to the Thomas Hart Benton Home.  You can learn more about it here.  The staff was so easy to work with and were so generous with their time.  All 19 of us (elementary art teachers from my district) were impressed with the knowledge and enthusiasm of our tour guide.

All of us outside Benton's home and studio.
Selfie with the man himself.
And I photobombed one of our newest teachers
(you're so welcome, Mia!)

 I found this quote from Benton that I added to the bottom of our agenda for our day:
"The artist's life is the best life... if you can get through the first forty years." 
Gives me some hope for a full-time art career of my own someday.
Now you can go sniff some old books to feel like you were there!

Monday, October 9, 2017

Are You A Member Of Your State Art Organization?

I (maybe wrongly?) assume that if you're the type to be reading art teacher blogs, then you're probably pretty aware of and involved with your state art education organization.  If you're not a member, you should be.  If you haven't gone to events, you totally should! Just that time around all those like-minded people is worth it's weight in gold.
My state (Missouri) has two conferences a year: fall, at a state park, and spring, in a city (it rotates to various parts of our state).  Fall conference was last weekend, and here are just some photos of some of the workshops:

Some yarn bombing.  Inspired me to yarn-bomb the tree in my front yard.

A lesson from our Drag 'N Brag, which is at night
and in the rec hall, where the light is terrible.

Stitched portrait from a Drag'N Brag session

Getting ready for some printmaking luscious-ness

I also attended a session on automatas, and here are some videos from that session.  The first one is one of the presenter's student work.  The second one is Mr. Hodes, of previous-student-teacher fame if you're a regular reader of my blog.



My automata is currently under construction, because I made it way way complicated, so it's taking me a while to figure it out.
I do understand that your weekends are precious and you might not want to be away from your family, but trust me, it's so very worth it.  You'll meet other amazing art teachers, you'll have this whole network of people to call on.  You can use it to your advantage when a new-to-your-school student mentions where they came from and you just might know their previous art teacher.  It helps, it works.  We all need vibrant communities of like-minded friends.  Your state art education association can be that for you.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Why Yes, We Are Making Money

My fourth graders are learning all about the Mycenaeans and the island of Crete right now (you can get my Smart Notebook lesson for this here, look for the one labeled Ancient Greece).  We watched Eyewitness Volcano (which is on YouTube and is AWESOME) and painted volcanoes and drew some Knossos-inspired mansions, and then we printed our own money.  Yep, some counterfeiting going on in fourth grade art!  We looked at coins from that era and watched the video of money being made in ancient times.  I then gave them a strip of poster board (approximately 2 x 6 inches or so) and small circles to trace.  Students used pencil to design their own coins.  They then traced it all with glue and I put it on top of my cabinets to dry completely flat.
Once every student in the class was done and their glue was completely dry, we used clay to press our coins:

Glue not being what it was when I started teaching 18 years ago, each student also had a skewer to add details that were unclear.  We also used our skewers to add our initials to the back of each coin (so we'd have a 'heads' and a 'tails').  Our coins are currently drying before going into the kiln (darn rain has made drying slow) and then we'll paint them with amazing metallic acrylic paint. Students always love using clay, so the making coins was a great success.  We'll see how painting goes!  They're so small, and I'm betting they're going to make a great sound--like real coin clinking.

Friday, September 29, 2017

All Those Student Art Magazines

I love the idea of student-level art magazines.  I loved Weekly Reader as a kid, and when I came to my current school eleven years ago the previous teacher had a couple year's subscription to Scholastic Art and something called Art & Man.  There were so many! I diligently organized them by artist/genre and found a place for them on my shelf.  And there they sat, gathering dust.  In my cleaning spree I gathered them up to donate to a new art teacher. 

And then I wavered.  Did I really want to donate all of them?  There were too many to fit in a box, so I went back through them and kept five of each.  Still the box was too heavy, so I pulled more out.  I made a smaller section for my five-of-each and put them back:

I decided to put my extras that didn't fit in the box in my magazines for collage:

And then I worried about that.  Is it okay to let students cut them up? What message does it send?  Is it somehow weirdly sacra-art-igous?  We're doing a collage in fifth grade right now (blog post coming on that soon) and my stomach dropped a little every time a student pulled one out to cut.  But the world kept turning, some students used them in awesome ways and I have a cleaner counter.  So that's good, right?  Then why do I still feel anxious about it?

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Nothing Like Some Last Minute Panic Setting In

There's so much to keep up with! I knew I'd switched half the elementary schools to the fall show date at our central office as the other group had done the fall date for years.  I knew it was coming.  I knew I was supposed to fill half the display case, but for some reason September 20th seemed so far off.  
But it's not, it's tomorrow and I had NOTHING for the display case as of 8:30 am this morning, September 19th.
In true professional art teacher fashion, I ditched my plans for sixth grade (finish binding their sketchbooks and start their t-shirt designs) and had them make paper sculptures (working alone or with a friend or two).  I had some leftover foam core pieces for the bases, and they had 35 minutes to work.
Here's a few of what they created:

Dinosaur by a student who literally started at our school last week.

Sponge Bob's house by a student who spent her recess finishing it all up.

Some sitting on my [newly-cleaned-this-year counter top] to dry.

A collaborative rainbow.
Now they only need to dry for delivery to central office tomorrow afternoon.
Friday this class will be back to their regular plans, but they really helped pull off a miracle for me today!

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Poster Outside My Door This Year

Every year I do a different poster outside my classroom door to welcome students to my class/be interactive/let students know more about me and my family.  You can read about previous posters here, or here.  The 2015/16 poster went over really well because it was interactive, so I went back to that buffet and made a spinner for this year's poster:

The top says "Mrs. Fresia likes to begin with the end in mind.  She uses Habit 2 when she. . . " 

It's our third (?) year as a Leader In Me school, so our students are working to live the seven habits.  I wanted them to see it as it relates to real life (thus this year's poster).

The spinner choices are:

  • plans activities with her family
  • makes dinner 
  • plans and grows her garden
  • makes artwork
  • develops art lessons for YOU

The spinner arrow is cut out of foam core.  For the spinning parts,  I pretty much wandered the hardware section of my local Westlake Hardware and found flat-head screws, washers and the end piece that I thought would work (I think I spent 53 cents total).

I (of course) had the photos developed super last minute and the colors are horrific, friends.  I kind of doubt elementary students are going to remember that the colors of the turkey-and-stuffing-dinner-that-my-husband-actually-made-and-not-me are way off, so I just went with it. The mirror is one of those breakable locker types that I found in my basement from my oldest daughter's seventh grade locker (she's 21, don't judge my hoarding-ness).

It's been a fun poster for students--there's lots of spinning as they walk by my room. It's always interesting to watch the students who won't touch it and then ask incredulously, we can touch that?!  The edges of the arrow are getting a bit frayed, so I may have to add some tape, but this poster is a winner winner!

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Teacher Life Without The Network

We've been back to school for about two weeks now.  I decided to change things up with my fourth grades and start the year with Ancient Crete and Greece.  I made a Smart Notebook presentation with all these little video clips, and kind of stumbled through it with my first group (it felt kind of disjointed or something?).  I was really hitting my stride with my introductions with the second group. . . and then the network went down.  Which meant no internet.  No showing video clips or external links.  My whole introduction was ruined!  Right in front of the class! So, I decided to act out the links.  Like some weird improv, I danced and galloped and did lots of jazz hands.  And sweated.  Lots.  Did they get the information??? I sure hope so.  
And the network stayed down.  For two days.  Goodbye video'd demonstrations loaded onto an external site for sixth grade, hello demonstrating over and over.  
A class would come in and I'd start with whatever was planned and then realize 'I can't show that/do that.'  It was like someone had cut off an arm or something.  
But somehow we survived.  The internet connection was restored and we kept on keepin' on.
I'm not AT ALL saying the Greece Smart Notebook lesson is a great one (at this point I'm not even sure it's good), but if you're interested, let me know and I'll drop it in my Smart Notebook files for you to use.  And maybe your internet will work, all day.
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